Dozens of dead birds found near Hayle Beach amid bird flu outbreak

Dead gannet found on Porthkidney beach near Lelant Credit: Tamzin Nancholas

Dozens of dead birds have been found on a beach near Hayle, Cornwall.

Tamzin Nancholas was walking her dog at Porthkidney on Sunday afternoon (18 September), when she came across a number of dead gannets in the sand.

Tamzin said her young daughter, who she was with at the time, was upset by the sight of the birds.

Just last month, Cornwall was declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone by the UK’s deputy chief veterinary officer in a bid to mitigate further outbreaks of the disease.

Tamzin has called the RSPB, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to let them know of the situation.

She said: “I counted at least 10 dead birds on a stretch of beach from the car park down to the far end of the beach.

“It was yesterday afternoon, along the stretch of Porthkidney beach from the car park down to the far end and we were out as a family walking the dog.

“My daughter was really upset by the sight. I’ve informed the RSPB and Cornwall Wildlife Trust and tried to let DEFRA know but they’re closed for the bank holiday, so I’ll call again tomorrow morning (Tuesday).

She added: "There was definitely no plastic or fishing nets so I’m assuming bird flu but since I know you’re not supposed to touch dead birds at the moment, I didn’t move them or anything. There was no one there to collect them and several of the birds did indeed look like very recent deaths.

"I have literally never seen anything like it, after a lifetime of living by the sea. You occasionally see a dead herring gull that’s been caught in fishing line but never gannets dead like that."

Under Avian Influenza Prevention Zone restrictions, bird keepers in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly now have to follow strict biosecurity measures to protect their flocks, regardless of size.

This includes backyard owners with small numbers of poultry such as chickens, ducks and geese, to prevent bird flu from spreading further.